A closer look at the farmers whose lives are being changed by P4P.
Since the launch of P4P in Sierra Leone in 2009, WFP and partners have been supporting over 7,000 vulnerable smallholder farmers, more than half of them women. As in many countries, women in Sierra Leone tend to provide the majority of agricultural labour, but their work is generally invisible, unpaid and undervalued. Although women are well-represented in farmer-based organizations and Agricultural Business Centres (ABC) in Sierra Leone, few occupy leadership positions.
Purchase for Progress (P4P) began in 2008 as a five-year learning pilot to help WFP explore new ways of using its food purchases to develop staple crop markets and spur improvements in smallholder agriculture. Already implemented in more than 35 countries, the P4P approach is currently being mainstreamed.
Purchasing from smallholder farmers, especially through farmers' organizations, requires that WFP adapt its procurement practices to better meet smallholders' needs.
Smallholder farmers often live in remote rural areas far from cities, markets and sometimes even roads. Most make sales to traders directly from the farm gate, for low prices, immediately after the harvest. Apps, SMS messages and radio programmes hold the promise to help farmers make informed business decisions about when, where and how to plant and sell their crops. Today, farmers are connecting with one another across vast distances with apps to improve their planting and harvesting skills. They receive weather and market price information through SMS messages directly on their phones.
Fati Mahama is one of the farmers who have benefitted from sales to WFP using standardized prices with weighing scales.The maize markets where Ghanaian smallholder farmers sell their produce are generally informal. Farmers have little say in the prices they receive, and usually market maize using the “bushweight” system. This means selling heaped “size 5” bags, which weigh around 150 to 170 kg, for the price of a 100 kg bag. This can leave the farmer unpaid for 30 to 40 percent of the marketed crop.
As the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, the World Food Programme (WFP) reaches an average of 80 million people each year with life-saving food assistance. We also work to eradicate the root causes of hunger; one way we do this is by sourcing our food in ways that build stronger and more inclusive food systems.
In 2008, we launched Purchase for Progress (P4P) to explore how to source food more directly from the small-scale farmers. Purchasing earlier in the supply chain means a great deal of logistical challenges.
Since 2004, WFP and the Government of Burkina Faso have been working together to support nutrition and education—especially for girls—in the Sahel region. Today, more than 2,200 students are benefitting from nutritious, locally-produced yogurt in these school meals. Under this project, milk produced by small-scale livestock breeders is processed into yogurt by local women’s associations. WFP then purchases the yogurt for distribution in schools.
The combined efforts of the three Rome-based agencies allow smallholder farmers to access comprehensive support that a single agency could not provide alone. Each agency brings its own expertise to the table, combining FAO’s technical expertise in agriculture and natural resource management, IFAD’s policy dialogue and strong linkages with the Government and WFP’s logistics expertise and demand. Although the work of these agencies is complementary, differing business models, implementation areas and project cycles can sometimes make collaboration challenging.
Following many years of internal conflict, the Republic of South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in July 2011. Renewed conflict began in December 2013. As of July 2015, 4.6 million people, 40 percent of the population, were estimated to be facing the risk of acute hunger. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides lifesaving emergency food assistance for the most vulnerable populations, despite facing funding shortfalls and a great deal of logistical challenges.
Today, conflict continues to disrupt markets and forces people to flee their homes and farms.
Despite steady improvements in agricultural production in recent years, Liberia remains a food-deficit country and depends heavily on international imports. Farmers’ organizations generally have limited storage, processing and marketing capacity. This lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for farmers to access major regional markets. In addition, cooperatives do not have access to the financial services needed to effectively manage the agricultural value chain. The majority of smallholder farmers in Liberia are women.
Defining nutrition-sensitive agriculture
According to the 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, nutrition-sensitive agriculture consists of interventions or programmes in the agriculture sector that address the underlying determinants of fetal and child nutrition and development—food security; adequate caregiving resources at the maternal, household and community levels; and access to health and a safe and hygienic